US Congress proposes to confiscate Russia's sovereign assets for Ukraine
Photo via EPA

A bipartisan group of US senators has registered a bill to confiscate and transfer Russian sovereign assets, primarily those of Russia’s central bank, and repurpose them for Ukraine.

The bill, called the REPO Act (Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity for Ukrainians), was introduced in both houses of US Congress.

On Thursday, it was submitted by US senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate foreign relations committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), in conjunction with US representatives Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus.

This legislation:

  • Gives the president the authority to confiscate Russian sovereign assets that have been frozen in the United States and transfer them to assist in Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.

  • Prohibits the release of funds to sanctioned Russian entities until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and agrees to provide compensation for harm caused by its unprovoked war. 

  • Instructs the president to work with allies and partners to establish an international compensation mechanism to transfer confiscated or frozen Russian sovereign assets to assist Ukraine.

  • Gives the state department office of sanctions coordination additional resources to work with partners and allies abroad toward the goal of confiscation of additional Russian sovereign assets in other countries.

It "ensures Mr Putin – not US taxpayers – foots the bill for the damage caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine," the statement reads.

Ukraine’s deputy justice minister Iryna Mudra voiced support for the bill, calling it "a legal precedent that opens a legal and legally justified path to the confiscation of Russian sovereign assets."

Ukraine has long been calling for an estimated USD 300 billion frozen Russian assets to be confiscated and allocated for reconstruction purposes. Most Western partners are, however, reluctant to do so, citing legal obstacles relating to confiscation of private property.

Some countries, still, have adopted makeshift mechanisms allowing for confiscating some Russian sanctions-related assets as part of criminal proceedings.